Treating Patient as Partner
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Health literacy is a “low-hanging fruit” that can be addressed on multiple different levels and has been shown to correlate with clinical outcomes. I feel we don’t pay enough attention to this issue. The patient-centered medical home concept is a good beginning with the utilization of health coaches, but certainly more can be done.
Right now the patients have very little skin in the game. Just like CMS and payers are reimbursing healthcare providers more and more based on clinical outcomes, patients must themselves be held to a similar standard when it comes to preventive care and overall wellness. Incentivizing patients with lower premiums, eliminating copays, providing “stay healthy” programs, and offering other initiatives will foster patient engagement.
A huge gap is the lack of attention to mental illness, which is now poorly reimbursed. There is data to prove that embedding a behavioral health specialist in a practice dramatically increases patient engagement and generates much better clinical outcomes.
It has also been shown that the PCMH model, when fully implemented and deployed, creates much higher patient, staff, and provider satisfaction than other models. The “activated and engaged” patient as part of the healthcare team is a critical element to make coordination of care a reality.
Everyone speaks about alignment but never includes the patient in the equation.
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